A '''subdeacon''' (or sub-deacon) is the highest of the [[minor orders]] of [[clergy]] in the Church. This is
a sub-clerical order which is higher than the [[reader]] and lower than the [[deacon]]. It is an order that is at it's fullest when serving with a [[bishop]] during hierarchical services. In common practise, an [[acolyte]] or [[reader]] can be blessed to act as a subdeacon during services.
At the Great Entrance, the new subdeacon joins on the very end of the procession, carrying the ewer and basin and, after the commemorations, takes the blessed water to the people so that they may bless themselves with it. He returns to his place on the solea until the end of the [[Anaphora]], when he re-enters the altar, lays the ewer and basin aside, and joins the other subdeacons.
Subdeacons, like readers, are permitted to wear a [[cassock]], although many do so only when attending services; this is done as a sign of his suppression of his own tastes, will and desires, and his canonical obedience to God, his bishop and the liturgical and canonical norms of the Church. In jurisdictions that utilise clergy shirts, subdeacons may wear a clergy shirt without a collar.
During services, the subdeacon is vested in a [[ sticharion]] with an [[ orarion]] tied around his waist, up over his shoulders (forming an X-shaped cross in back), and with the ends hanging down in front, tucked under the section around the waist in an X-shaped cross. In jurisdictions where acolytes are able to wear orarions, they are distinct from subdeacons in that an acolytes orarion hangs straight down in front.
When there is no bishop present, a subdeacon will take the role of acolyte, assisting the priest during religious services in the [[altar ]]. The only exception to this being that a subdeacon is able to touch the table of oblation and the altar when necessary, though he is not able to move between the [[Altar]] and the [[Holy Doors]].
In some jurisdictions, a seminarian who has discerned that he does not have a calling to pastoral service can be ordained to the subdiaconate.
On the day that a subdeacon is ordained, he may be required to serve at the Liturgy (particularly if there is a shortage of altar servers). In this case, the taking of the blessed water to the people may be omitted, and he may be asked not to stay on the solea but rather to assist with serving duties in the altar and at the entrances. This will depend on jurisdictional preferences.
Subdeacons are mentioned in canons with age restrictions (of 20 years of age) and prohibitions on marriage after ordinations (like deacons and priests) - e.g., Apostolic canon 26. A variety of methods of 'getting around' the canons have been employed, from blessing acolytes or readers to vest and act as a subdeacon (for a particular service or permanently), or for reserving the formal ordination service to candidates for the diaconate, or for simply ignoring the canons and permitting subdeacons to marry.
It should be noted that a 'blessed' subdeacon may not touch the altar or assume other perogatives of ordained subdeacons outside services.
*[http://www.saintelias.com/ca/etiquette/frwho.php Who's Who? in Church Services]
*[http://images.google.com/images?q=orthodox+subdeacon orthodox subdeacon - Google Image Search]
*[http://goarch.org/chapel/liturgical_texts/ordination-subdiaconate-en Ordination text]
tweaked for the Byzantine tradition.